Bhubaneswar: After the nationwide crunch of remdesivir, a new challenge has come up for the state government and private health setups in the form of a massive shortage of amphotericin and other important drugs that are found useful for the treatment of black fungus.
According to chemists, important drugs to treat mucormycosis (black fungus) are not available in the state posing a grave threat to the treatment of the highly infectious disease. “No private chemist shops have amphotericin and other drugs that are commonly used for the treatment of black fungus. This is the situation across the state,” said Prashanta Mohapatra, secretary, Utkal Chemist and Druggist Association.
The health department, however, is facing another dilemma. Amphotericin was earlier discouraged due to its toxicity and other adverse effects while at present, the drug is being sought for quicker procurement from manufacturers.
“The shortage of amphotericin is a nationwide phenomenon. It is a highly toxic and expensive drug. The Centre had been recommending its use for the treatment of Kalazar. We also used it, but not now,” Bijay Mohapatra, director, health services, said.
He said the Odisha State Medical Corporation has floated a tender for procurement of the drug. All states had a meeting with the Centre Monday and the former raised their concern on the shortage of the drug. The tender is for the procurement of 5000 vials of amphotericin.
As the drug is costly, its availability here is likely to be made in three to four weeks. Meanwhile, several panic calls on social media and other modes for the drug have been made in the state. A frantic call from a premier central government hospital Tuesday was made to get the drug from anywhere in India. The situation is likely to get grimmer in the days to come. According to doctors treating such cases, liposomal amphotericin is the best drug used in the treatment of black fungus. However, the drug is not available in the market.
In the absence of this, doctors either use water-based amphotericin or posaconazole, which is available in limited stocks at a few places. The state government also claimed that they had very little stocks of the drug. According to a few doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, other drugs used in the treatment of the disease are also not available in the open market or with the government.
When queried on how AIIMS is tackling such cases, Dr S Mohanty, medical superintendent, AIIMS, did not give any response.
Experts said while Odisha is grappling with the shortage of liposomal amphotericin, lipid-based amphotericin or water-based amphotericin are available for treatment in a few other states, doctors at Rajasthan and some other southern states told this reporter.
A city-based doctor requesting anonymity said, “Most hospitals in Odisha are struggling for drugs used primarily to tackle the fungal infection. While amphotericin is mostly unavailable, alternative drugs used in this treatment are also not easily available.” Just like remdesivir, now there is a demand and supply gap for this drug. It will take some time to get adequate stocks of the drugs. But first, the drugs are likely to be available in government setups before we can find them in the open market, she added.
Manish Kumar, OP